Syrian opposition back out of peace talks after UN invites Iran to attend

‘Geneva II’ conference could be in jeopardy after UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon invites Iran to preliminary meeting

In a major blow to the prospect of peace in Syria, the country’s main opposition group has said it will not attend talks in Geneva unless the UN retracts its invitation to Iran.

This morning it was announced that the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon had come to an agreement with Tehran after extensive discussions with the Iranian foreign minister Javid Zarif.

Yet while Mr Ban said President Bashar al-Assad’s key regional ally “needs to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis”, the move seems to have put this week’s conference in jeopardy after more than a year of planning.

Ahmad Ramadan, a senior member of the western-backed Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), accused Iran of “invading” Syria by coming along to a meeting ahead of the so-called “Geneva II” talks, and said the rebel group would be “suspending” its own participation as a result.

Mr Ramadan said the SOC will not be going to the conference “if the situation does not change”.

Geneva II was set to be the first face-to-face meeting of the two warring factions at the heart of the Syrian conflict.

Yesterday Mr Ban called an impromptu press conference to announce that Iran would be playing “a positive and constructive role” at preliminary talks in the Swiss city of Montreux in Wednesday, before the main conference begins in Geneva two days later.

He said Iran is among 10 countries recently added to a list of 30 invited to attend the Montreux meeting that will precede talks between Assad's delegation and Syrian opposition groups at the UN’s European headquarters.

The US and Russia, which have been organising the preliminary meeting at Montreux, had been unable to agree over Iran’s attendance.

Mr Ban said he had been assured by Mr Zarif that Iran “ understands that the basis of the talks” is the full implementation of a road map to peace outlined by the US, Russia and other major powers in Geneva in June 2012.

He urged the Syrian parties “to keep one goal in mind: the end of the suffering of the Syrian people and the beginning of a transition to a new Syria”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory